The One Addiction That Can Help You
It will provide you with calm, clarity, and peace of mind.
Everyone understands the dangers of addiction.
Nonetheless, we are all addicts in some way. We may not be drug addicts, alcoholics, porn addicts, or nicotine addicts, but we may be addicted to seemingly innocuous things like caffeine, social media, drama, validation, and so on. All of these seemingly harmless addictions eat away at us. We crave it, just like an addict, and we get anxious when we don’t get it. When we have to sit still in silence without touching our phones, we get antsy. When we don’t drink our cup of Joe in the morning, we become irritable and grumpy.
Let me ask you a question: how often do you see someone doing nothing in a restaurant or café? They were alone, absorbing the world around them and being fully present. There was no phone, no book, no friends; they were alone, absorbing the world around them and being fully present. Not very often, isn’t it?
I am also an addict
First and foremost, I suffer from a severe caffeine addiction and I am a chain smoker. This gets so bad that I almost never fast during Ramadhan, the holy month of my religion, Islam, because I can stand not eating from sunrise to sunset but I can’t live without coffee and cigarettes.
I was also a phone addict — specifically, a social media addict. When I first woke up in the morning, the first thing I did was check Instagram or Twitter. But now I’m addicted to something else, and this addiction is helping me overcome my addiction to my phone and social media.
The one addiction that I don’t mind being an addict of
Meditation. Yes, that is the one addiction that is so satisfying that I don’t mind being an addict for the rest of my life. How do I develop an addiction to meditation? It started small, five minutes of meditation in the morning and soon it grows into a longer session. It was extremely difficult at first. After all, modern humans have a difficult time sitting still. We are terrified of silence, so we rush to our phones and the online crowds at the first sign of it.
What is it about silence that so frightens us? Silence may differ from person to person, but for me, it forces me to think and, if not mitigated, will propel me into a loop of existential crisis, potentially leading to depression. I don’t think anyone enjoys being reminded of the brevity and insignificance of their life. Our ego begs us to seek validation and the meaning of our existence — more on this in a future post.
My first encounter with meditation
I was in my second year of college when I came across the books of the revered Thich Nhat Hanh. My life’s path was soon altered. I became interested in mindfulness, the fundamental human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not become overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.
Let me ask you again: how often do you feel like you’re on autopilot in your daily life? I was frequently on autopilot; my body was present, but my mind was elsewhere. I studied mindfulness because, while it may appear extreme, I would rather not live than not fully live — not being conscious of my choices, words, and thoughts.
Meditation is the key to developing mindfulness. I began with “living meditation,” in which I train myself to be fully aware of my tasks at hand, no matter how mundane they appear, using Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and books as a guide.
When I take a shower, I enjoy the sensation of cold or warm fresh water caressing my body, cleaning and rejuvenating me.
When I drink coffee, I savor every flavor, whether it’s bitter, acidic, chocolatey, or something else.
When I drive, I truly drive, with my eyes on the road and the steering wheel.
Victor Frankl, another of my favorite authors, stated:
“There is a gap between the stimulus and the response. We have the ability to choose our response in that space.”
Meditation can help you achieve the space Victor Frankl is referring to. I’ve learned to take a deep breath, pause, and ask myself, “Is it really necessary?” before jumping into a Twitter debate, seeking instant validation on social media, or shouting or yelling at strangers during a traffic jam.
Meditation is addictive
Because it is liberating, it feels like regaining control of your true self. You will learn to recognize when your ego is speaking to you when you are upset, irritated, or constantly seeking validation. Meditation assists me in realizing that I am not my ego, thoughts, or the voice inside my head; I am the one hearing it: I am consciousness.
“There is nothing more important to true growth than understanding that you are not the voice of your mind — you are the one who hears it.”
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael A. Singer.
How can you start being addicted to meditation?
Begin small, be open, and, as cliche as it sounds, don’t give up just yet if your thoughts won’t stop yapping in your head–it’s the nature of thoughts to yap. Simply smile at your thoughts and let them go. Pay attention to them, but then let them go. They do not represent you. Remember that you are the consciousness hearing your thoughts yapping. Allow it to yap.
I start with five minutes of meditation every morning, and I quickly notice the difference.
And it’s only natural to crave something that benefits you and makes you feel good. I’m still a long way from becoming an expert meditator. When I have to meditate for more than 20 minutes, I still get antsy. But I know I’ll get there, and I know that right now, I’m addicted to meditation, and it’s the best addiction I’ve ever had.